“Hardest” Things to Relearn as a Girl Traveling Solo.

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Lyon, France. February 2015.

The first time I really traveled solo, I was living in London (a totally different kind of traveling solo – I knew I’d meet people since I was in school so I count this as ‘less solo’ and not really ‘travel’) and heading out to Paris and Lyon for my reading week break. While this is not my first time writing about this trip (<= the first post of about 9 across 4 months of posts), after almost two years since heading out, I found that I have a few things left to say.

Now, this post is not about Paris, Lyon, or France – it is purely about what I have learned from traveling solo and how it has changed me since.

1. Stop being so nice. – I know, I know, this is so far from what I normally recommend. I am all about smiling at strangers, saying hello, and putting your best foot forward, but it is important to know when to stop. Whether it’s an aggressive stranger or panhandler, or a situation that just makes you uncomfortable (and I’m sorry to say, ladies, but you are bound to happen upon at least one of these), you do not have to be nice about how you say no. Just say that word (No!) and walk away.

This can be really uncomfortable, especially for women who have been trained that taking a stand just makes you a bitch. Worse, many of us have had bad altercations because we have said no or stood up for ourselves. Here is my counter: when you are traveling solo, being complacent will not get you out of a bad situation, and you can always find people or a crowd that will make saying no easier, or at the very least, feel safer.

2. Take up space. – When I was living in London, I saw a lot of men who would sit with legs spread or bags seriously encroaching on others space (the word ‘man-spreading’ was not made up for nothing!) and while I don’t recommend following these spreaders example, don’t force yourself to be small to placate others.

Repeat after me: I deserve to take up space!

Why is this important to note when traveling solo? In part, staying small allows others to take over the space that you are vacating (see point one on why that can cause an issue!), taking advantage of you. On another point, if you pay for a trip, especially a solo trip where you get to dictate your every activity, you get to enjoy said trip and all the freedom that is waiting for you.

3. Do what you want to do. – As I have said, for most of us, solo trips are selfish in that we go on them so we can do what WE actually want to do without anyone else dictating their whims to us. During your travels, however, you may meet people who you choose to day-trip with which is amazing. Just because you make these friends does not mean that you give up what you want to see and/or do. If you really like someone or a group, set up a time after your individual activities to go out and eat, drink, or whatever else.

Again, never feel bad for doing what you actually want! I know from experience that you will absolutely regret it. Hell, this goes for traveling with people as well! Don’t feel bad for taking a day to do what you want – just let the person planning the trip know so no pre-bought tickets are wasted on you!

4. Don’t ask permission for going and taking action. – Basically, don’t let anyone else’s nay-saying  stop you from going on a solo adventure.

Maybe your friend has always wanted to go somewhere and it was supposed to be the two of you. Now imagine you have the opportunity to go and, with all your research, you have so much stuff you want to do there. Unfortunately, your friend either isn’t serious about finding a time or way to actually go or keeps finding excuses not to get their butt in gear. Or maybe you have a family thing that pops up – I’m not talking a wedding or a funeral or a once in a lifetime event for someone close to you – suddenly, and someone starts calling you selfish for not postponing.

Should you really wait? I know it’s hard but I say no. With the friend, tell them you are ready to go and you will go again with them later when they are actually committed (you never know when you will have the chance again!). When it comes to the family member, this can be really tough and personal but you really have to make the choice based on your situation.

5. Seriously, stop being so ‘nice’! – This is not only the theme of this whole post, but it’s so important it has to be stated twice.

As a girl, we’ve been trained to be docile, polite, and step aside so that others are comfortable and as a solo traveler this is not only going to take so much of your experience away before you even set out, it can also put you in bad (even dangerous) situations. So don’t be led by others, say no and mean it and make them know you mean it, feel free to walk away, and don’t apologize for taking up space you deserve or not consulting others when making you decisions.


So there it is, my 10th post inspired by one trip – who know there was so much to say!

A few final (and positive) notes, I want to say that there is an amazing freedom to solo travel that can never be fully articulated. Even if you are reading this list thinking ‘I could never do that!’, trust me, when you are out there, you will feel it. It’s empowering and exhilarating.

As I mentioned in my opening, I have discovered that taking these lessons into the real world has done me a world of good. If you can travel through an unknown city, claiming your space, dictating what you do and every choice you make, and not letting others stand in your way (again, this doesn’t mean you are rude just to be rude!), why wouldn’t you want this freedom in your everyday life? I am talking more assuredly, looking people in the eye, standing taller, and telling people when they have crossed a line. Sure, you can get all of this by traveling generally but it’s a whole different level when it’s all up to you; a privilege and a responsibility.

So, that’s all for me. I’d love to hear what lessons you have learned or what you are afraid of when traveling alone, or if you have any questions, let me know in the comments below!

This is Leave o the Wind, helping you soar.

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“Hardest” Things to Relearn as a Girl Traveling Solo.

Running for Adventure…

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Black Sand Beach, Hawaii. November 2016.

We’re back with another great running for travel post by my good friend Libby. This week – after a long stint away due to computer issues (That she’ll touch upon) – she gives us one more amazing reason to get in shape and keep running: it can give you even more reasons to travel! I’ve mentioned my love of Hawaii and my own athletic adventures and wishes to return to these beautiful islands, but after reading all of this through Libby’s perspective I – and I bet you as well, after reading – am all ready to pack my bags and explore all over again. So here we go!

I know in my last post I mentioned that I would tell you all about the NYC Marathon. Due to some technical difficulties, the post I was writing is currently not accessible to me. So instead, allow me to tell you all about a recent runcation I took to the Big Island in Hawaii.

You may be asking yourself: “What’s a runcation?”

Allow me to explain. It’s when you travel to a location to run a race, then you make a vacation out of being there.

There are three things I absolutely love about runcations:

1. It gives me an excuse to travel

2. It allows me to explore new places on foot (the best way to see new places, in my opinion)

3. It gives me an excuse to pig out on local food

I traveled to the Big Island last month with my cousin, but first we had a seven hour layover in Honolulu.

Instead of sitting around in the airport for seven long hours, we decided to take a bus over to Waikiki. There are two things that immediately come to mind when I reflect back on my brief visit to Waikiki: The water was this beautiful blue color that I will never forget and the place was very touristy. There was high-end shopping and hotels everywhere. I could tell almost immediately that locals probably don’t hang out there. After two brief hours, we headed back to the airport and flew over to the Kona Airport.

My first two days on the Big Island were spent running my second Ultra Ragnar Race – Ragnar is a 200 mile(ish) relay race that takes place in multiple locations across the country. Most teams contain twelve runners, but an ultra team only has six, which means you end up running a lot more. I ended up running about 30 miles out of the 200. It was exhausting, but so much fun. My favorite thing about Ragnar is that you run together as a team. I’m used to running races all on my own, so Ragnar is always a nice change of pace (pun intended).

After the race I had two days to explore the Big Island, which, as it turns out, is not nearly enough time. There is a whole lot to do on the Island of Hawaii and I wish I could have had at least two weeks to explore.

I started off by exploring the Town of Kona. It has a small-town authentic type of feel. There are a lot of fun little shops to explore, it’s located right along the ocean, and it’s the location of my favorite shave ice I’ve ever had.

After that we (my cousin and friend were with me) headed to black sand beach. I unfortunately didn’t see any of the turtles that hang out there, but it was still a beautiful place to visit.

Then, we headed to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. I had so much fun checking out the active volcano there. I will distinctly remember watching the sun set over the volcano that night. As it got dark you could see some lava peeking out – it was surreal and amazing. Finally, we ended the day by grabbing dinner and drinks at Kona Brewing.

On our final day of exploring, my cousin and I decided to explore the east side of the Island. We started off by going to ‘Akaka Falls – it’s a beautiful waterfall that doesn’t require an extraneous hike to reach.

After that, we checked out the town of Hilo, but it unfortunately wasn’t quite what we expected. The town was run down and there weren’t many great shops to check out. It felt like the opposite of Kona.

After checking out the town we just drove around and took in the scenery. The Hilo side of the island is so green and lush, unlike the Kona side which is full of volcanic rock. We ended up finishing the day back in Kona (where we went back to our favorite shave ice place) and had dinner.

I left Hawaii the next day feeling like there was so much more to do and I’m anxious to go back in the future. I even signed up for a Hawaiian Airlines credit card to try to earn enough miles to go back. I still haven’t decided which island I’ll head to next time…I’m debating between going back to Maui (I visited that island about four years ago) or Kawaii. Until then, stay awesome everybody and go to Hawaii if you have a chance. I’d HIGHLY recommend it.

This is Libby, writing for Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

Running for Adventure…

Staycation? Make it a day trip.

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Isles Anniversary, California. November 2016.

This weekend, there is a camping trip for the SCA and while I would love to get out of my life for a weekend (it’s getting addicting), I have way too much stuff on my plate to add in planning a long, busy weekend. What I can happily set out to do is give myself a day off and road-trip up and back to the campsite.

Remember, the whole point of a staycation, whether you get just beyond your own city or explore your city, is to get out of your own head and relax.

In this case, a friend and I are road-tripping about 2 hours (so barely a road trip – but again: staycation!) up to camp and, just like any road-trip, there are things to consider.

Money: Are you splitting costs such as gas, snacks, or anything else that comes along? Sometimes it’s worth it to divide these costs but other times when they are so small, it’s not worth splitting hairs. Best policy is to discuss before setting out.

Timing: When do you need to leave and when do people need to be home by? Where are you meeting up (important to know for your personal timing)? Never ever make the person who is driving wait for you! I have had to wait on people many times and there was nothing worse than starting a road trip ticked off by the people you are going to have to sit in a car with for hours on end.

Doing Your Part: This could mean picking up coffee for everyone, or volunteering to drive part of the way, or working as the DJ or navigator (taking into consideration everyone in the car with you!). Basically, stepping up so that no one is left doing everything themselves.

Now, just because a staycation doesn’t make you go as far (and in my case, for very little time), doesn’t mean you should skip out on the prep and planning. If you aren’t going far from home for a day or two, having to buy anything because you forgot supplies from batteries to sunglasses to power chords and chargers can put a real damper on your trip. In that case, so can getting lost if you don’t look up your directions beforehand.

So yes, go out and hike, to a campsite, to a beach, anywhere out of your element and center yourself.

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

 

 

Staycation? Make it a day trip.

Sorry, it’s a wander.

This week – really today – I am struggling to get myself motivated. Between a long few months with crazy kids (none mine), the US election (for which I fear having to deal with children tomorrow), and the rest of my adult life that’s not falling into place, the week is a bit of a dud.

This doesn’t mean I am not thinking and dreaming about traveling – I’m thinking of pretty much nothing else.

It’s almost the one year anniversary of moving back home from London (a long hard year after the most magical year and a half of my life – take me back!) which can be perfectly summed up in this post from one of my new favorite travel blogs.

It’s all made so much worse by the need to become an adult now.

I was in London for my master’s degree which involved taking on a lot of debt – I recently calculated what I have paid back in the last months and realized I could have paid for an amazing road trip with the tiny parts that have gone back to the loan companies.

On the other half of my mind, I have tons of SCA – Society for Creative Anachronisms -based travels calling out to my travel gene.

While this is tempered by small events that range from 45 minutes to a few hours away, it has me craving farther historical locals. I play with a Viking persona so anytime I belt up my apron dress, I long to venture the Nordics.

Then our upcoming royalty has changed to Romans so events are beginning to shift to Ancient Roman and Grecian themes – I’ll be planning an event with another friend which is leaning toward an ancient Greece/Titans theme that will be happening in a few months. This is only making me long for out of the way (or even city center) ruins and beautiful columned architecture.

So here I am, wandering. And yes, trying to escape the crazy. Go out, explore, and hope the world stays in one piece when I wake up.

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

Sorry, it’s a wander.

On Money and Things…

While I’m pretty much home bound for the foreseeable future, a daughter of a family friend and co-worker is currently living in Florence, Italy for her college semester abroad. Over the last few weeks, I’ve been listening to her mother fret over various financial issues that have arisen and tried to help her sort out what she can from half a world away.

Since Anne is only gone for a semester, she doesn’t have a bank account over there – unlike when I lived in London for the year and a half. Instead, she is using her American debit card for everything.Unfortunately, she found a few fraud charges popping up right before she was due to take a school trip to Budapest.

With close to two weeks to spare, she contacted her US credit union and sussed out the charges and expected a new card to ship out immediately. When she suddenly found herself mere days away from the trip and still no card, she contacted the bank only to discover that they never sent out her replacement.

Anne doesn’t have a credit card and now – as I explained to her mother – was without access to any of her funds. Remember (again, I had to explain this to my co-worker!), both your savings account and your checking are connected to your card so without checks -which can take 7 to 10 days to clear – and without any active cards, you really can’t access any funds no matter how much your parents wire into said account.

So, what should Anne do?

Well, Anne is lucky enough that her school was willing to lend her cash – 200 Euros – for the trip which she can pay back when her finances are corrected. She did this immediately, but as you can guess, this wouldn’t go very far on the trip she’d already paid for.

My next suggestion – in her tight schedule – would be to talk to friends. Here’s the thing to remember: cash issues overseas happen a lot and they can take a little bit of time to correct. Your friends will understand this and, as long as you keep spending to a minimum and keep track of who to pay back and how much, most friends will help you out and lend you some money. This can be a little embarrassing and feel like you are pushing some kind of impossible barrier but when you need it, you have to get over wounded pride and ask.

With more time, a parent or friend can send a money order or a check made out to cash. Just make sure you have all your information to verify your identity, have all of your account information, and double check what banks you can work with – you generally can’t walk into just any bank and get out money.

If you are traveling or living abroad for a short time, you should also work to preempt this situation all together.

First, keep a bit of cash on hand at all times rather than depending on you cards. You will also get dinged less with out of country fees if you pull out a  larger sum all at once rather than have a bunch of smaller charges.

Next, always have a back up system. I’m lucky enough that my parents have given all of us emergency credit cards linked with the family’s main accounts. We can use these if we are in the exact situation that Anne has found herself in. As I have said, moving across international boarders means there will be some serious chances of money problems but until it happens to you, you won’t think of fixing them. Have a back up and you will save yourself at least immediate panic.

Lastly, you MUST (and I can’t emphasis this enough) stay on top of your finances. Whether this is keeping track of your spending habits, checking for fraud, checking that your bank sends your replacement card, or anything else that could possibly happen with your money, you much constantly be paying attention.

As I have said, you don’t think about how things can go wrong until they start to go down hill and then figuring out what to do next becomes a panicked sequence of events that won’t get you anywhere. I know this is what happened to me when I had all my phone issues when I was overseas.

It happens to us all but plan ahead for what you can and keep a calm head. For now, Anne is having fun in Budapest, her mom is freaking out less everyday, and her card is on its way to her.

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

On Money and Things…